4 anesthesia mistakes you might not know you're making

Anesthesia is a vital inclusion in any clinic's medical practice, but it does come with risks. By avoiding these common mistakes, your patients will receive a safer anesthetic experience.
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Oct 01, 2010

Practicing anesthesia in veterinary patients can be challenging. Being young and healthy does not mean that a patient won't suffer an anesthetic complication or that less monitoring is required. And just because a geriatric or compromised patient makes it home does not mean that anesthesia was practiced as well as it could have been or that the patient isn't suffering from delayed complications. For example, clinical signs of renal failure, a common consequence of prolonged anesthetic hypotension, can take a couple of weeks to show.

This isn't meant to scare you away from using anesthesia but rather to direct your attention to practices that increase the potential for negative effects so you can avoid doing them. All patients deserve the safest anesthetic experience possible. Here are four common anesthesia-related mistakes that you might be making right now. Click here to read an additional mistake concerning dentistry. And click here to see how every team member has a role in providing safe anesthesia for all veterinary patients.

1. Relying too heavily on monitors.

Although machines are an important part of anesthetic monitoring, you can gather a lot of information with a hands-on approach. Technicians can get a fuller picture of anesthetized patients by consistently palpating pulses, assessing mucous membrane color and capillary refill times, feeling jaw tone, and tracking palpebral and withdrawal reflexes. These practices can also bring attention to concerns before a monitor sounds an alarm.

For example, an ECG can show a normal tracing for up to five minutes after cardiac arrest has occurred. Monitors can give inaccurate readings for many reasons such as movement or shifting of a probe, an inappropriately sized or inflated cuff, extremes, loose wires, and improper set-up. An astute technician can often determine if the monitor is correct.